Direct formation of HONO through aqueous-phase photolysis of organic nitrates


  • González-Sánchez Juan Miguel
  • Huix-Rotllant Miquel
  • Brun Nicolas
  • Morin Julien
  • Demelas Carine
  • Durand Amandine
  • Ravier Sylvain
  • Clément Jean-Louis
  • Monod Anne

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Abstract. Organic nitrates (RONO2) are secondary compounds whose fate is closely related to the transport and removal of NOx in the atmosphere. Despite their ubiquitous presence in submicron aerosols, the photochemistry of RONO2 has only been investigated in the gas phase, leaving their reactivity in condensed phases poorly explored. This work aims to address this gap by investigating, for the first time, the reaction products and the mechanisms of aqueous-phase photolysis of four RONO2 (i.e., isopropyl nitrate, isobutyl nitrate, α-nitrooxy acetone, and 1-nitrooxy-2-propanol). The results show that the reactivity of RONO2 in the aqueous phase differs significantly from that in the gas phase. In contrast to the gas phase, where RONO2 release NOx upon photolysis, the aqueous-phase photolysis of RONO2 leads primarily to the direct formation of nitrous acid (HONO or HNO2), which was confirmed by quantum chemistry calculations. Hence, the aqueous-phase photolysis of RONO2 represents both a NOx sink and a source of atmospheric nitrous acid, a significant precursor of ⋅ OH and ⋅ NO. These secondary radicals (⋅ OH and ⋅ NO) are efficiently trapped in the aqueous phase, leading to the formation of HNO3 and functionalized RONO2. This reactivity can thus potentially contribute to the aging of secondary organic aerosol (SOA) and serves as an additional source of aqueous-phase SOA.

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